Chase Elliott scored his third NASCAR Cup Series win of the season at the Charlotte Roval, as reigning champion Kyle Busch was eliminated from the Playoffs.
For the first time ever in the Cup Series, and the first race to be run in the wet since 1956, the 109-lap encounter around the 2.28-mile combination of the Charlotte oval and road course was started on wet tyres, with Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski taking an early lead, before Elliott nipped past on the eighth tour in his Chevrolet.
At the scheduled lap 10 competition caution, Ty Dillon became the first driver to switch to slick tyres, with the oval section of the track was drying quicker than the infield section.
Dillon took the restart on lap 13 in 28th position, but was leading by lap 21, passing Clint Bowyer – who was trying to nurse his wet Goodyear tyres to the end of the stage to bank much needed stage points for his #14 Stewart-Haas Racing machine.
A John Hunter Nemechek spin on lap 22 ended the stage early, handing Germain Racing’s Dillon the segment win, with Elliott in 13th.
The 25-lap stage two was won by Ryan Blaney for Penske with Elliott in second, as Busch’s hopes of advancing to the Round of 8 of the Playoffs took a dent when his #18 Joe Gibbs Toyota suffered a puncture after contact in the midfield.
The two-time champion pitted for repairs on lap 64 and dropped to the rear of the field, but a caution for debris on lap 88 vaulted Busch to the lead, in a vain attempt to try and fight for the win which he would need to advance.
On worn tyres and low fuel, Busch led the first lap after the restart, but out-going JGR team-mate Erik Jones muscled past in the infield on lap 91, before Elliott did the same to the #20 of Jones on the next tour.
Elliott was unchallenged throughout the remainder of the race to record his fourth straight win on road courses, second consecutive on the Roval and third of the campaign to seal his place in the semi-finals of the NASCAR season.
Joey Logano’s second place for Penske was his best result since winning at Las Vegas back in March while Jones took his second third-place finish of 2020 for JGR.
Kurt Busch, who secured his place in the Round of 8 with victory at Las Vegas, was fourth for Chip Ganassi, ahead of Blaney and William Byron, who banked sixth in a solid drive for Hendrick.
Martin Truex Jr, who like Elliott has a strong record on road courses, spun with two laps to run on the in-field to drop from fourth to seventh, as Alex Bowman’s eight place was enough to secure a first appearance in the Round of 8 segment of the Playoffs for the driver who will take over Jimmie Johnson’s #48 entry in 2021.
Cole Custer was ninth ahead of Clint Bowyer for Stewart-Haas Racing in 10th, who was eliminated from the Playoffs in his final Cup season, meaning runner-up to Keselowski in 2012 would be his best championship standing.
Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola (16th) and Austin Dillon (19th) were the other three drivers to be eliminated at the quarter-final stage.
As a result, Elliott, Keselowski, Truex Jr, Kurt Busch, Logano, Bowman, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick are the eight to advance into the next phase of the Playoffs.
For just the third time in 2020, both Harvick (11th) and Hamlin (15th) finished outside the top 10, with Hamlin spinning twice and picking up bodywork damage to the #11 in a messy afternoon.
NASCAR Charlotte Roval race results – 109 laps
|1||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||–|
|2||Joey Logano||Team Penske||s|
|3||Erik Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||s|
|4||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing||s|
|5||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||s|
|6||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||s|
|7||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||s|
|8||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||s|
|9||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing||s|
|10||Clint Bowyer||Stewart-Haas Racing||s|
|11||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||s|
|12||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||s|
|13||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||s|
|14||Ryan Preece||JTG Daugherty Racing||s|
|15||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||s|
|16||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||s|
|17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||JTG Daugherty Racing||s|
|18||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||s|
|19||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||s|
|20||Chris Buescher||Roush Fenway Racing||s|
|21||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Richard Petty Motorsports||s|
|22||Matt DiBenedetto||Wood Brothers Racing||s|
|23||Ty Dillon||Germain Racing||s|
|24||Christopher Bell||Leavine Family Racing||s|
|25||Daniel Suarez||Gaunt Brothers Racing||s|
|26||Gray Gaulding||Rick Ware Racing||s|
|27||Corey LaJoie||Go FAS Racing||s|
|28||Quin Houff||StarCom Racing||s|
|29||James Davison||Rick Ware Racing||s|
|30||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||s|
|31||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing||s|
|32||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||s|
|33||Josh Bilicki||Petty Ware Racing||1 Lap|
|34||Matt Kenseth||Chip Ganassi Racing||1 Lap|
|35||J.J. Yeley||Spire Motorsports||1 Lap|
|36||John Hunter Nemechek||Front Row Motorsports||4 Laps|
|37||Brennan Poole||Premium Motorsports||Suspension|
|38||Timmy Hill||MBM Motorsports||Engine|